House committee approves new Gulf of Mexico sanctuary

By Rob Hotakainen | 05/07/2024 01:15 PM EDT

An underwater cypress forest off the Alabama coast would get federal protection under a bill that cleared the Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday.

Jerry Carl listens to testimony.

Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Ala.) is sponsoring legislation to protect an underwater forest off his state's coast. Nathan Howard/AFP via Getty Images

The House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would designate a 60,000-year-old underwater forest off the coast of Alabama as a new national marine sanctuary.

By unanimous consent, the committee approved H.R. 897, which would grant federal protection to the ancient cypress forest located 60 feet underwater in the Gulf of Mexico, a few miles south of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

The bill, sponsored by Alabama Republican Rep. Jerry Carl, would prohibit the cutting or removing of any trees or additional drilling in the seabed, but it would allow fishing, diving, and some other recreational and commercial activities.


Carl told his colleagues he was “incredibly proud” to get the bill approved by the committee and to make sure the forest will be protected while still allowing the public to use it.